Category Archives: Arab-Israeli Conflict

Brian Williams and the Reliability of the News Media

I’ve been watching the Brian Williams fiasco with a certain wry detachment. All this media hype about how Williams may have made up a story that misled his public, when the story is relatively anodine (self-promotion), strikes me as a displacement. Sort of like screaming about Israeli intimidation of the media when the topic is Palestinian intimidation. Makes you look like you care about accuracy even as you do nothing to i the real problems.

Now we have a story that illustrates in almost every detail the kind of accusation that Matti Friedman has made about the deceptive and dis-informing modus operandi of the media when it comes to Israel, and this time specifically with Brian Williams in the lead. Somehow, I’m guessing, when the hounddogs for truth sift through Williams work, this will either not get their attention at all, or, if it does, they will not find it worthy to pass on to their audience in the USA.

Note how both in the program, and in his subsequent excuse, Williams uses self-critical Jews to do his dirty work. Heaven forbid the public in the West should even be exposed to the idea that the settlements are not the core of the problem. (HT/ES)

How Brian Williams (and Tom Brokaw) betrayed my family

 February 9, 2015

Many people were surprised or shocked over the recent revelations that NBC anchor Brian Williams lied about his experiences on a helicopter in Iraq. I was not. The nature of TV news is to stage drama. It’s got to look and sound good on the screen for better ratings. Williams got caught up in his own fantasy: too many years, perhaps, of reporting the news.

When Williams interviewed my family in our home, he similarly staged a false drama in order to sell a story. And in that process, he betrayed us and his viewers.

Brian Williams interviewed our family in the late of summer 2004 about our sonKoby’s murder. We sat on the nubby sofas in our sunroom in Tekoa, in the West Bank, and he told us that he had been in the neighborhood — in Greece for the summer Olympics — and that is how he came to be in Israel. I looked at his pressed pants, his shiny black shoes, his clean shirt: impeccable.

Tom Brokaw was still the anchor of NBC news but I knew that Williams was set to take over in the following months. I asked Mr. Williams: “Do you have any special education about this part of the world?”

“No,” he said, to his credit. “I wish I did have more knowledge.”

I wasn’t surprised. After my son’s murder, I felt sure that journalists who interviewed us would be specialists in some way, experts in the history and cultures and religions of this region. But that was rarely the case. Knowledge was certainly not a prerequisite for an interviewer.

After talking about how we came to Israel, we told Mr. Williams that Koby and Yosef had been eighth-grade boys who cut school, went hiking in the canyon behind our home in 2001, and were murdered by Palestinians terrorists, beaten with rocks.

He sympathized and then asked whether Seth had a gun. Seth said yes—he had one locked in a safe upstairs in the bedroom.

“Would you mind going upstairs and getting the gun so we can film you with it?” his producer asked Seth.

Seth said no. We both realized that they wanted to stage a scene – to reinforce a stereotype, a visual of the angry rifle-toting, trigger-happy settler.

Brian Williams interviewed us for about a half an hour. We told him how Koby was not to blame, that the Palestinians had incited violence. We were told that the story would appear on NBC news sometime in the next week.

A few days later, we saw the interview on the Internet. I was furious. I wasn’t upset by what Seth and I had said. We were distraught about the way our story was framed. To open the segment, NBC interviewed an Israeli – an English speaker from Tel Aviv – about her views on the intifada. She sat on the couch in her Tel Aviv apartment and said: The settlers are a cancer on today’s society. They are the reason for all of the problems in Israel.

Then the newscaster said: And here is an example of the people she is talking about: Seth and Sherri Mandell. Settlers from Tekoa. And the camera panned to show us sitting on our couch in our sunroom.

Of course I knew the station wanted to use us to ignite emotion in its viewers. I knew that the media was about conflict, drama and ratings. But how could they malign and betray us like that? How could they mislead us into thinking that they were going to tell our story, our story alone? Nobody had informed us that my son’s murder would be folded into a specious debate about the settlements.

The next morning I wrote to Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw. I sent them an email that said that the way they had framed the broadcast was outrageous, and that they had done us—and the memory of our son Koby — an injustice. They had let the woman from Tel Aviv attack us without giving us a chance to defend ourselves. It was as if she and they had personally called us a cancer.

Tom Brokaw emailed me back. He wrote that the night the program had aired, he had been out to dinner with a Jewish couple, friends of his who had seen the broadcast and thought that it was just fine. A lovely Jewish couple who he had dined with had found the broadcast unobjectionable. Indeed they had felt that we, the settlers, were portrayed very positively.

This was his answer? That was his logic? That a Jewish couple he knew thought that the segment was a wonderful example of journalism. His defense seemed pathetic: no evidence other than an unrepresentative couple who were his friends. This is how the anchor of major network news supported his opinions, garnered his evidence?

I never heard back from Brian Williams. But I have learned this about some TV journalists: in order to create drama, they may omit and manipulate in order to heighten the story.

Certainly we should be saddened by this practice. But not shocked. Its just part of the business.

JBS will air discussion of New Anti-Semitism with Phyllis Chesler and me

Watch:  EMET’s panel on the new Anti-Semitism


When: Monday, January 26th, at 8pm EST on the Jewish Broadcasting Service (JBS) Channel. 


Featuring: Author Phyllis Chesler and Professor Richard Landes 


The program will also be streaming live at:


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#JeSuisCharlie? Réflexions de Paris, dimanche 11 Janvier 2015

Réflexions de Paris, dimanche 11 Janvier 2015

traduite de l’anglais par Isabelle Sfez.

Est-ce aujourd’hui que la France se réveille ?

Le Tout Paris en parle. Partout cette semaine, nous entendons des voix horrifiées et étonnées, et aujourd’hui, fières. Presque quatre millions de français se sont manifestés en un « Oceano pacifico ». Un jour d’unité nationale où chacun, indépendamment de son identité, est Français. « Nous sommes tous Charlie Hebdo. Nous sommes tous policiers. Nous sommes tous juifs. Nous sommes tous libres. ». C’est une magnifique démonstration de solidarité, une réaffirmation collective du contrat social de la République. Cela a révélé toutes les meilleures choses qui font la France, qui en font un symbole de liberté et de courage si grand que même les gens qui trouvent les français, disons … « difficiles », sont néanmoins francophiles. Un présentateur des actualités télévisées note : « Hier, Paris était bel et bien la capitale du monde ». Ou, selon les mots du président Hollande « la France est toujours le point de rassemblement du monde quand la liberté est en danger ».

Et qu’est-ce qui a amené la France à devenir capitale du monde, dans cette démonstration d’unité ? C’est de dire non à l’incroyable – certains disent insensé – meurtre de 12 dessinateurs. Une déclaration massive, catégorique de refus – refus de mettre genou à terre, refus de se taire, refus de tolérer la violence de l’épée contre la plume, refus de supporter cet assaut contre les valeurs de la France sans réagir. Selon les mots du « martyr en chef » Charb, mots qui servent de devise à cette manifestation : « Plutôt mourir debout que vivre à genoux ». (1)

Partout alentours on entend le choc, l’étonnement. «  Mais d’où vient cette folie? », « Comment cela peut-il arriver en France ?!? ». Suspendues sur le grand monument, place de la République les lettres : « POURQUOI ? »


Mais certains d’entre nous, bien qu’émus par les événements de Paris, sont sceptiques, devant cette vague de solidarité communautaire.

Quand la Ligne Maginot culturel s’écroula: Cours de rattrapage pour le debut du 21e siecle

Propos pour un cours de rattrapage au sujet des problèmes qui menacent un futur civil et pacifique en France.


Place de la République, 10 janvier, 2015


Il existe en effet une abondante littérature qui s’adresse aux forces djihadistes qui se sont si pauvrement faites sentir par le grand public français. Lorsqu’elle est apparue, la réaction des voix dominantes des milieux les plus variés des médias, de l’information, fut de les rejeter, de les attaquer en tant qu’islamophobie et communautarisme. Donc il y a un grand corpus d’informations et analyses auxquels aurait pu se référer le public français et républicain dans les années zéro (00s), au moment où le djihadisme se répandait en Europe et au sein des autres cultures démocratiques.

Mais parce que les professionnels de l’information, les journalistes, les universitaires, les intellectuels, dans une quasi unanimité, ont refusé de les discuter, le grand public français l’ignore – un corpus de la plus grande importance pour tout penseur qui essaie de comprendre ce qui se passe maintenant. Et même si ces textes ne répondent pas définitivement à la question « pourquoi ? » , au moins l’acte de relire cette abondante littérature permet de lancer finalement une conversation qui aurait due être ouverte il y a quinze ans.

Shmuel Trigano, Quinze ans de solitude: Les Juifs de France, 2000-2015

Nidra Poller, Notes from a Simple Citizen, 2000-2005

Martin Kramer, Ivory Towers in Sand (2001)

Emmanuel Brenner, Territoires perdus de la Republique (2002)

Pierre-Andre Taguieff, La nouvelle judéophobie (2002)

Ivan Rioufol, Chroniques d’une résistance : (Bloc-notes des années 2003 et 2004)

Jacques Tarnero, Decryptage (2004)

Bat-Yeor, Eurabia (2005)

Guy Millière, Qui a peur de l’Islam? (2005)

On the Corruption of the Media: Attkisson’s Testimony Helps Understand Mideast Coverage

If Matti Friedman tore off the veil from the AP’s modus operandi in covering the Arab-Israel conflict, then apparently, Sharyl Attkisson has done it for CBS’s modus operandi when it came to the White House over the past two decades. Apparently, Attkisson’s book is an update on Bernie Goldberg’s chronicling of a media militating for Obama with their coverage (A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media2009).

It’s still not out, but the following article by Kyle Smith offers some extensive examples of partisan corruption of the mainstream news media that we in Israel know intimately. Below I draw some (of many) parallels, in order to highlight the way the mainstream news media’s Augean Stables of encrusted bad practices has become a transnational phenomenon.

(H/T Amos Ben-Harav)

Ex-CBS reporter’s book reveals how liberal media protects Obama

Sharyl Attkisson is an unreasonable woman. Important people have told her so.

When the longtime CBS reporter asked for details about reinforcements sent to the Benghazi compound during the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, “I give up, Sharyl . . . I’ll work with more reasonable folks that follow up, I guess.”

Modal Trigger

Another White House flack, Eric Schultz, didn’t like being pressed for answers about the Fast and Furious scandal in which American agents directed guns into the arms of Mexican drug lords. “Goddammit, Sharyl!” he screamed at her. “The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable. You’re the only one who’s not reasonable!”

It’s natural for any stakeholder (political, corporate, personal) to want to protect itself from revelations that embarrass it. Anybody who can (i.e., has power), threatens with loss of access, hence access journalism. Nobody who can does not favor favorable journalists, and punish with exclusion (at the least) those who tend to reveal unpleasant information. The question is, how far will they go? How does the naturally self-protective agent respond to the failure of access journalism to control the situation?

The role of the journalists in a democracy is to fight against this disadvantage for reporters who need access, to resist the kinds of pressures that powerful and influential people can exercise. The remark by White House deputy press secretary Eric Shultz, enumerates some of the more prominent of the submissive journals: Wapo, LATimes, the Grey Lady. They all play nice (reasonable).

Sharyl, on the other hand, is doing her job as a professional journalist with a code. Her kind of journalist was once the pride of the profession. She has, however, become “unreasonable.” “Reasonable” here means someone who knows that, in order to stay in the game (that of access journalism, not real journalism), they will submit their work to a self-imposed censure.

For those trying to understand the Middle East conflict, if mere partisanship (liberal vs. conservative) in the West could produce such damage to the screens upon which we observe our world, imagine what kind of an impact the implicit, constant threat of sudden death, has on reporters working in Palestinian territories.

Fisking Peter Beinart’s Compulsive “Blame Israel” Approach

Guest post fisking Beinart from Saadia Eisenberg. Beinart’s original article is actually deeply disturbing, evidence of a systematic need to indict Israel, based on a gratuitous hypothesis of Israeli ill will and desire to dominate the poor Palestinians. Full of the, “of course Israel has a right to defend herself against this inexcusable behavior, but… she really needs to make major concessions to the Palestinian good cops.

Among his many moves, Beinart argues a counterfactual designed to establish a fair marker.

If Abbas had declared that because of the Gaza War he no longer supports two states, American Jewish groups would have screamed with fury.

Instead, it further skews the sample, not only because it’s a faulty analogy (see below), but because it distracts from the real imbalance, Beinart’s own systematic use of a hermeneutic of suspicion against Israel (Netanyahu), never even remotely applied to Palestinian leaders and their negotiating strategies.

If Beinart were to apply to his analysis of Abbas (or any other Palestinian leader) the same principles of suspicion of bad faith, which he systematically applies to Netanyahu, this analysis would short-circuit in a flash. 

Where’s the bad faith here, Peter?

By Peter Beinart               |   Jul. 16, 2014 | 4:34 PM

What is Israel fighting for?

Most Jews think the answer is clear: Israel is fighting to keep its people safe from rockets. Most Palestinians think the answer is clear too: Israel is fighting to maintain its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (According to the United States government, Israel still occupies Gaza despite withdrawing its settlers because it controls access to Gaza from air, sea, and—along with Egypt—land. If the United States controlled whether boats could dock, and planes could land, in Canada, we’d be occupying it even if no Americans lived there.)

I don’t know what Peter’s source for the Palestinian viewpoint is, but Israel didn’t start fighting before Hamas shot their rockets. In fact, Israel accepted numerous ceasefires which Hamas rejected throughout this conflict.

Moreover, how does this escalation support Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the West Bank?

A tremendous amount rides on how one views Israeli intentions. If Israel is only seeking to protect its people, then Hamas’ rocket fire really is – as Israeli spokespeople insist – the equivalent of Canada shelling the United States. Even if you acknowledge that the Canada-U.S. analogy is flawed because Israel occupies the West Bank and Gaza while America doesn’t occupy Quebec, it’s still possible to justify Israel’s behavior if you believe Israel wants that occupation to end.

First of all, let’s leave the West Bank out of this. There are no rockets being fired out of it. Or into it. For the time being.

Moreover, Israel was not actually occupying — if you want to call it it that — the Gaza Strip from the disengagement until Hamas rose to power there. Granted, it was a short time, but even if Israel wants the occupation to end theoretically, how can they completely relinquish the terrain to a terror state?

If, on the other hand, you believe that Israel desires permanent dominion over territories whose non-Jewish residents lack basic rights, then Israel’s behavior doesn’t look all that defensive. That doesn’t justify launching rockets into Israel. Hamas’ attempted murder of civilians is wrong, period, irrespective of Israel’s intentions. It is even more egregious because Hamas rejected a cease-fire, which Israel embraced. But as appalling as Hamas’ behavior has been, it’s hard to endorse Israel’s response if it is aimed not just at safeguarding its own people but at controlling another people as well.

Again, if we’re talking about Gaza, the non-Jewish residents — who constitute the only residents, by the way; Gaza is Judenrein — lack basic rights because of their elected leadership, and on many levels. Their right to freedom of speech and petition is directly taken by their government, and the normal lives they deserve are taken indirectly, as their government forces Israel into occupying and blockading Gaza. And no, almost nobody in Israel views this as ideal.

Which is why Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments last Friday were so important. “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement,” he declared, “in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” With those words, explained Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, a Netanyahu sympathizer, the Prime Minister was “insisting upon ongoing Israeli security oversight inside and at the borders of the West Bank. That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Publicly, at least, this is an earthquake. Until last Friday, Netanyahu was on record as supporting a Palestinian state. For five years, in fact, American Jewish leaders have insisted that he sincerely desires one. So what has changed on the ground to make Netanyahu change his mind? Nothing.

No, Peter. Everything.

Back in mid-July, before Peter (or any other analyst, for that matter) knew this, Israel had been in the midst of a quiet operation against Hamas in the West Bank.

Hamas had planned a military takeover of the West Bank, reminiscent of the takeover in Gaza after Israel gave it up. The PA was not stopping this; Israel was.

Now, had the Palestinians been more independent, and had Israel not got involved, they would have another ‘Hamastan’ terror state overlooking the coast.

This is very possibly what Netanyahu had in mind when he said in mid July that in no agreement could Israel relinquish more land.

Peter was unaware of these developments, but Netanyahu was.

Netanyahu now says he cannot relinquish control of the West Bank because Hamas could use it as a base from which to shell Israel, as it is now doing from Gaza. But that danger didn’t arise last week.

But we saw how tangible and imminent it was last week.

Hamas has been shelling Israel, and refusing to recognize its right to exist, for a long time. The argument for the two state solution—which most top former Israeli security officials endorse – has always been that once Palestinians gained the rights and dignity that came with a state, their government would have a strong incentive to keep Hamas and other militants from imperiling that state by using it as a launching pad for attacks on Israel, as the governments of Egypt and Jordan have done in the decades since they signed peace deals.

But thanks to Hamas’s popularity and power, this ‘government’ may be run by Hamas itself, who would have no reason to stop themselves from attacking Israel. As is proven time and time again, Hamas does not care as much for the Palestinians and they would like to claim.

One can dispute this logic. But it is no less persuasive this week than it was last week. And last week, Netanyahu publicly supported a Palestinian state.

First of all, it is far less persuasive than it was last week.

Second of all, a Palestinian state could be in the PA-controlled territories. Why must Israel give over land for a Palestinian state? There are ways of working out the contiguity problem, such as tunnels and bridges.

In reality, what has changed are not Netanyahu’s views but his willingness to publicly acknowledge them. Bibi is a man, after all, who in A Durable Peace, his major book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reissued in 2000, repeatedly compares a Palestinian state to the Nazi takeover of the Sudetenland.

Some background: the year 2000, Second Intifada. The PA is headed by Yasser Arafat, who funds and supports terrorists. If even the legitimate, ‘moderate’ head is supporting terror, which wants to eventually take over all of Israel, who is to say this isn’t true?

When elected prime minister in early 2009, he still publicly opposed a Palestinian state. And even when he supposedly embraced Palestinian statehood that June in a speech at Bar Ilan University, his own father told Israel television it was a ruse: “He doesn’t support [a Palestinian state]. He would support it under terms they [the Palestinians] would never accept.”

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t support it. It means that the Palestinains won’t accept his terms. Again, Peter, this must be Israel’s fault, even if we’re not sure how.

Netanyahu has made no effort to get his Likud Party to endorse Palestinian statehood nor did he try to prevent it from running a parliamentary slate in 2013 dominated by avowed two state opponents.

The Likud slate was chosen by the Likud members, not by Netanyahu himself. Netanyahu tried to promote his own political allies, with partial success.

He’s doubled funding for settlements.  And according to the best reporting on John Kerry’s now-aborted peace effort, Netanyahu adamantly refused to discuss the boundaries of a Palestinian state while insisting, according to U.S. negotiators, that Israel’s “control of the West Bank would continue forever.”

What constitutes the ‘best reports’, Peter? The one that makes Israel look the worst?

Even Abbas recognizes that Israel will always control some of the West Bank (in mutually agreed upon swaps). Netanyahu himself said — to Israel’s public — that Israel would have to relinquish some territories, so these American officials could not have meant all of the West Bank either. So what is so bad about that?

All of which is to say that Netanyahu’s statement last Friday, as Horovitz correctly observes, did not represent “a new, dramatic change of stance by the prime minister. It was a new, dramatic exposition of his long-held stance.”

No, it is different from what he told the israelis during the negotiations. There were new circumstances, and his position shifted accordingly.

Why is Netanyahu coming clean now?

Because he saw the imminent Hamas plan to take over the West Bank, which Israel was forced to stop by itself, given the proven impotence of the PA to resist Hamas violence.

 Because he can do so without risking a confrontation with the Obama administration, which has given up trying to broker a two state deal. For all those on the American Jewish right who claimed that Netanyahu would grow more willing to compromise once America ceased its diplomatic meddling and simply offered its unconditional support, the results are now in. Without American meddling, Netanyahu feels free to broadcast his rejection of the two-state solution to the world.

Again, he still isn’t rejecting the two-state solution. He’s saying, justly, that Israel cannot give up land. Again, Israel cannot afford a larger, stronger, and more strategically placed ‘Hamastan’.

He’s also free to do so because he knows that the American Jewish establishment will not publicly challenge him. It’s extraordinary, when you think about it. Had Mahmoud Abbas declared that because of this week’s Gaza War he no longer supports the two state solution, American Jewish groups would have screamed with fury. But when Netanyahu does the same thing, they say nothing. As of Monday afternoon, in fact, not a single major American Jewish group had even commented on Netanyahu’s about-face.

Because unlike you, Peter, they recognize that they know less than Netanyahu does.

Moreover, one cannot compare Netanyahu’s statement to Abbas’s theoretical statement. Netanyahu continues to support a smaller Palestinian state but recognizes that he cannot give them too much land. Had Abbas not recognized Israel at all, this would be much more serious.

Netanyahu’s statement could be compared to Abbas saying he would not relinquish any land from the West Bank, not to Abbas rejecting the two-state solution. Indeed, by reading the matter as you do, Peter, you essentially take PA intransigence as a given, and identify Israeli concerns for their condition after an alleged

What this silence proves is that for major American Jewish organizations, publicly supporting the two-state solution has little to do with actually achieving it. For the American Jewish mainstream, the real purpose of claiming to support Palestinian statehood is two-fold. First, it maintains the fiction that Israel’s almost half-century long control of the West Bank and Gaza is temporary, which allows American Jewish leaders to praise Israeli democracy without grappling with the fact that Israel controls millions of people who cannot vote for the state that dominates their lives.

Should the USA have let Iraqis vote in American elections when they occupied Iraq?

They can vote in Palestinian elections. And had they not supported Hamas, the temporarily of the occupation would be much less of a fiction.

Second, it serves as a cudgel to wield against Palestinians. After all, were American Jewish groups to admit that neither they, nor Netanyahu, really support the two state solution, they would find it harder to brand Palestinian activists as anti-Semitic because they oppose the two-state solution too.

American Jewish groups do support the two state solution, as does Netanyahu, (as Netanyahu was also recorded saying secretly). They just feel it is impossible given the current conditions. (RL: Peter, your formula is actually pernicious: the very incitement to genocidal hatred that makes giving back the land no matter how much we might want to becomes the whiny complaint of people who don’t want to give the Palestinians their freedom, i.e., to destroy us.)

I’m not a pacifist. Although the images of Gaza’s dead sicken me, I could support this war if I believed it was aimed merely at safeguarding the right of Israelis to live free of terror. That’s why I found it easier to justify Ehud Olmert’s Gaza War in 2008. Because back then Israel had a prime minister who genuinely wanted to end its unjust, undemocratic dominion over millions of Palestinians.

Leaving aside Peter’s neglect of the fact that Abbas rejected Olmert’s offer of virtually 100% of the lands Abbas demanded, we must make note of the fact that he has called the occupation ‘unjust’. He is forgetting that Israel conquered the West Bank in a defensive war from Jordan, and has tried to give up the land multiple times.

So by ‘dominion’, does Peter mean the security fence? Because that has saved tens of thousands of lives.

The electricity and water? Oh, right, Israel gives that to the Palestinians, who don’t pay their bills, or produce their own, for that matter.

Today, by contrast, Israel’s prime minister wants to make that control permanent. And that means Israel’s missiles are instruments not only of self-defense, but also of conquest.

In that case, why is the escalation only happening now? And why is Israel accepting so many ceasefires? And why, oh why, are virtually no Israeli officials supporting retaking Gaza and staying there?

How on earth is fighting hamas in gaza bolstering the occupation of the West Bank? Because it attacks Hamas?

And what does Israel have to gain from its ‘occupation’ or blockade of Gaza that aren’t security needs? There are no settlers in Gaza!

Netanyahu has now said as much himself. Even if our leaders won’t, American Jews must be prepared to listen.

Peace When: Ten Reasons why a Palestinian State (now) is Bad for the World

In (dis)honor of the Swedish and British initiatives to recognize a Palestinian state right away, and Meir Javedanfar’s announcement of a blogpost on the topic:

I write the following counter-list: 10 reasons why a Palestinian State (right now) is a bad idea for everyone.

Please note: I do think a Palestinian state is by far the most desirable outcome for everyone (except the jihadis), if we’re talking about a state that behaves the way European Union nations behave: they disagree, but understand they’re on the same side. If however, as is every person with power in Palestinian culture right now, they are bent on our destruction, then trying to make a state with them will weaken us and strengthen them (good for no one but the jihadis). I am a member of Peace When, not Peace Now.

  1. There is no serious evidence that the Palestinian leadership both “secular” (Fatah) and religious (Hamas) want a state of their own that will live in peace with an Israeli state. There is, on the contrary, ample evidence that they will treat anything they get as a staging ground for further attacks.
  2. The Palestinians have, for all their opportunities, never been able to set up the infrastructure of a responsible state. The miserable career of Fayyad illustrates how far from a transparent governance, a fair juridical system, a competent administration they are. Why create a sure failure?
  3. This likelihood is all the greater if they get their concessions by means that involve going around the backs of the Israelis and having things forced on the Israelis. In honor-shame cultures, any time a foe is forced to make concessions it’s a sign of weakness, and an occasion to make further (violent) claims.
  4. As the withdrawal from Gaza showed, Hamas will eat Fatah within months of any power vacuum. Thus it is a near certainty that a Palestinian state will become a militant Jihadi state. Indeed, Daesh (ISIS) would probably eat Hamas as quickly as Hamas eats Fatah.
  5. With 51 Muslim majority states in the world, 22 Arab states, all of them either failures or worse, none of them solid democracies, most of them consistently belligerent to neighbors whether Arab or Muslim or not, why on earth would the world community want yet another guaranteed failed, bellicose, fascist, Jihadi state? Giving the current Palestinian leadership a state is like giving a crack-addicted teenager the keys to a fully-armed tank.
  6. There are people with a much greater claim on the world community’s values to have a state, peoples with their own language, in some cases their own religion, their own (real) history: Kurds, Berbers, Tibetans, Tamils, Chechens, etc. To give a state to a group with the same language, religion, and (until a generation ago) the same identity, as 22 other Arab ones sets a terrible precedent.
  7. The West faces an implacable enemy in global Jihad. It would be nothing short of reckless to create another major opening for Jihadi forces to take root and use state privileges to expand operations (e.g. diplomatic immunity).
  8. Israel represents the only civilizational ally the West has in the Middle East (pace Obama’s delusions about Turkey and his BFF Erdogan). To undermine her in a battle for her existence by empowering a genocidal movement with state power would be little short of insanely self-destructive. Without Israel, no Jordan, no Lebanon (however dysfunctional). No intelligence, no counter-weight to Jihadi impetus.
  9. To give in to the tyranny of a democracy of tyrannies in the UN is to undermine the very principles of international democracy.
  10. At this time, with an incompetent if not malevolent Palestinian leadership, with global Jihad the “strong horse,” and a Western world falling ill to the disease of anti-semitism and the outbreak of an aggressive Muslim “street,” it would be suicidal to press so foolish a policy.

Le plus grand gagnant de l’opération perdante-perdante “Bordure Protectrice”

Le plus grand gagnant de l’opération perdante-perdante “Bordure Protectrice”

Dans l’univers à l’envers de la politique du Moyen-Orient, rien ne réussit comme un échec sur le champ de bataille et rien n’échoue comme un succès militaire. Alors, qui a gagné la guerre de Gaza ?

Traduction par Isabelle Sfez de l’article publié par American Interest le 04 septembre 2014

Une traduction polonaise par Malgorzata Koraszewska est aussi disponible.

Après des semaines passées à suivre les combats dans la bande de Gaza, les experts se posent maintenant la question : «Qui a gagné?”. Le Hamas revendique des points juste pour survivre, malgré le pilonnage massif que son leadership et ses structures ont subi, et certains experts disent qu’Israël (1), quels que soient ses gains sur le champ de bataille, a sérieusement perdu la “guerre cognitive”. Dans l’univers à l’envers de la politique du Moyen-Orient, rien ne réussit comme l’échec sur le champ de bataille et rien n’échoue comme le succès militaire.

Parmi les joueurs auxiliaires, il ya des perdants partout. La crédibilité de journalistes a été dangereusement endommagée. Le Conseil des droits de l’homme et les ONG des « droits de l’homme » ont été honteusement partisans; le secrétaire d’Etat des Etats-Unis John Kerry et le président Obama, étonnamment naïfs et maladroits; la gauche intellectuelle, honteusement d’extrême-droite (2), dans son adoption du discours antisémite. De nombreux analystes s’accordent pour dire que l’opération Bordure Protectrice (OPE) n’a produit que des perdants, et parmi eux de grands perdants (3).

Pourtant, un groupe sort gagnant de l’Opération Bordure Protectrice : les djihadistes européens. Pendant qu’Israël pilonnait un ennemi qui se cachait derrière des civils, des manifestants ont occasionné de graves débordements dans les rues, en Occident et des villes musulmanes dans le monde entier pour protester contre le “génocide des Palestiniens par Israël,” (4), ils ont même crié « Mort aux Juifs ! ” et “Juifs aux fours ! ” et utilisé sur Twitter le hashtag #Hitlerwasright. Des magasins juifs ont été saccagés, et il a été refusé des soins médicaux à des juifs (5), ils ont été agressés lors d’émeutes (6). Les commerces juifs ont été boycottés (7). En Allemagne, le cri se fit entendre : “Hamas! Hamas! Juifs au gaz! ” (8). En France, c’était “Mort aux Juifs! Égorgez les Juifs!” (9) Alors que les médias minimisent la violence et la haine, que la police et la justice résistent mollement, les Juifs européens font leurs valises (10).

The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

A shorter version (edited for tone and length) is up at American Interest. If you leave comments here, I recommend you also leave them there.

After weeks of combat in Gaza, pundits sort out “Who won?” The weak side (Hamas) claims points for just surviving, despite the massive hammering its leadership and its constituents endured, while the strong side (Israel), whatever its battle-field gains, lost the “cognitive war” — big time. In the topsy-turvy universe of Middle East politics, nothing succeeds like failure on the battlefield and nothing fails like military success.

As for the ancillary players, more losers all around: journalists’ credibility dangerously damaged; UNHRC and UNRWA behavior, embarrassingly partisan; Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama, astonishingly clueless and blundering; intellectual left shamefully right-wing in its embrace of anti-Semitic discourse. Consensus assessment of many analysts: Operation Protective Edge (OPE) has produced only losers and bigger losers.

Only one group emerged from OPE a grand winner: European Jihadis. During the weeks of Israel pounding Hamas while Hamas hid behind civilians, demonstrators spilled out into the streets of Western and Muslim cities the world over to protest “Israeli genocide of the Palestinians,” even as they shouted “Death to Jews!” #Hitlerwasright, “Jews to the ovens!” Shops ransacked, Jews refused medical services, attacked in riots, Jewish businesses boycotted. For Jihadis, OPE offered a whole new, and possibly permanent, level of public violence. In Germany: “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!”; in France, “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This time, the chant has become a battle cry for bands of “youths,” armed with metal bars, running after Jews. And European Jews are packing their bags.

In the Jewish diaspora community and Israel, the alarm was palpable. “Time to go?” asked Shmuel Trigano rhetorically about France. Why? Not only because once again, people killed and sought to kill Jews in the streets of Europe, but because the news media continually played down the amplitude of the violence and hatred, and the authorities, both police and judiciary, resisted it half-heartedly. In France, as in England, anti-Semites no longer hide; unafraid of police, they roam the streets like the brown shirts of yore. Is this the “beginning of the end” of a two-millennia-long Jewish presence in Europe?

Jihadis, of course, delight in these new levels of both hatred and violence. For them, it’s a quadruple win: 1) depict Israel as the Dajjal (Antichrist) to Western audiences; 2) roam through the streets of Western cities yelling Jihadi slogans; 3) accelerate the expulsion of Jews from Europe as preparation for its conquest; and 4) keep the Europeans thinking this violence only targets Jews, and only because of Israel. For Jihadis, these past weeks confirm what they have long believed: that this is the Muslim century in which, among others, Europe joins Dar al Islam.

How did this happen? How did it get so bad before we noticed it? Are we observing changes of civilizational magnitude?

Global Consequences of Lethal Journalism: The Muslim Street

Rudoren, Intimidation, and the Horror of Affirming the Israeli Narrative

During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas’ strategy of endangering their own population and threatening reporters to blame Israel, became so crude, the façade began to crack. Indeed, the Foreign Press Association of Israel and Palestine released an unwonted condemnation:

The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.

In response to the FPA statement, NYT correspondent Jodi Rudoren tweeted:

In a subsequent email exchange with the FPA, Rudoren called their statement “dangerous.” Lest some consider that further proof of journalists’ fears of the unmentionable, she clarified to Matthew Kalman:

I found the wording of the statement overly broad, and, especially given the narrative playing out in some social media circles regarding foreign correspondents being taken in by the Hamas narrative and not reporting on the war fully or fairly, I was concerned that it undermined what I consider to have been brave and excellent work by very talented people,” she said.

Note Rudoren’s ubiquitous focus on “narratives.” The FPA, in confirming pervasive intimidation, adopts the “Israeli narrative,” and confirms the “narrative playing out in some social media circles [i.e. what Anschel Pfeffer abusively calls the Jewish Jihadis].” That, in turn, undermines the “journalists’ narrative” which itself is under criticism for its remarkable similarity to the “Hamas narrative.” How can we let evidence undermine “talented, brave, excellent” reporters, and, not coincidentally, arouse the ire of those many players who insist on the value of the “Palestinian Narrative.”

The board was aware that any statement might feed into a pro-Israel propaganda campaign [sic] about the accuracy of reporting from Gaza that has angered many FPA members, but that did not deter them, any more than they had been prevented from issuing previous criticisms of Israel or the Palestinian Authority for fear they would be interpreted as anti-Israel or anti-PA.

Note the ease with which the FPA refers to Israel’s [strongly supported] contention about the inaccuracy of Palestinian claims as “propaganda” even as they have a long history of recycling Palestinian propaganda as news. I think this may relate to the most fundamental rule in the Hamas/Palestinian Media Protocols. Journalists may pass on any given piece of Pallywood staging or lethal narrative, but they cannot reveal the staging; they may demur in denouncing Israel for an own-goal Hamas-caused Palestinian tragedy, but they cannot reveal Hamas’ responsibility.

Above all, the most important principle at work here: do not undermine the Palestinian narrative; do not support the Israeli one. That, above all, is the “danger” Rudoren worries about. Far more candid than Rudoren, Matti Friedman puts it bluntly:

Our narrative was that the Palestinians were moderate and the Israelis recalcitrant and increasingly extreme. Reporting the Olmert offer—like delving too deeply into the subject of Hamas—would make that narrative look like nonsense. And so we were instructed to ignore it, and did, for more than a year and a half.

Purely as a tale of a journalistic lapse in informing their audience of writing under persecution, as a case study of the dilemmas facing journalists covering an asymmetrical war where the weak side does not hesitate to use violence while the strong adheres to democratic standards, respecting a free press no matter how hostile, this issue deserves a curriculum of its own in journalism school, and a literature in journalistic ethics.

The Dilemma of the 21st Century Liberal

A friend sent me the following.



This is our dilemma. We face an implacable enemy who wants to destroy and subject us. The enemy openly proclaims his beliefs, even acts savagely on those beliefs, and we don’t want to know that we have enemies like that. Surely, as people say so often to the Israelis, if you sat down with Hamas, I’m sure you could work something out.

We want to be nice; we don’t want to be mean. And we end up being nice to the mean and mean to the nice. If we understand that we face an apocalyptic enemy who views the “other,” the infidel, as evil that must be destroyed, then we can’t keep telling ourselves that money and economic programs will solve the problem.

As a colleague said to me once about Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, “I wouldn’t have that on my shelf.” She was a candidate for membership in “Historians against War along with the colleague who told me that if the Palestinians did suicide bombing, it’s because “what choice did they have.” In theory, an end to war is a messianic fantasy, not a scholarly discipline; in practice it means activists mistake the worst imperialists for allies an anti-imperial movement.

denver al sadr

It takes effort to get this stupid.


Anshel Pfeffer Loses Himself in His Navel, Denounces “Jewish Jihadis”

It’s hard when a journalist that you mostly respect, loses it, especially under pressure. Anshel Pfeffer’s article needs to be understood in the context of Jodi Rudoren’s remark explaining why she dismissed the FPA’s denunciation of Hamas intimidation of journalists during Operation Protective Edge as “nonsense.”

I found the wording of the statement overly broad, and, especially given the narrative playing out in some social media circles regarding foreign correspondents being taken in by the Hamas narrative and not reporting on the war fully or fairly, I was concerned that it undermined what I consider to have been brave and excellent work by very talented people,” she said.

Anshel is picking up the relay for Jodi in this effort to marginalize these “social media circles.” Ironically, one of the certain denizens of these “social circles,” Honest Reporting, has just come out with a discussion of the Top Five Major Media Fails of Operation Protective Edge, which corroborate precisely the claim that has Jodi (and Anshel) so exercised: 5 media fails = Hamas narrative.

Stop listening to the Jewish jihadis

Those who say Israel is always right and the world is out to get us are causing long-term damage to Israel.

By  Aug. 14, 2014 | 5:28 PM | 3A reception for new immigrants organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
A group of arriving immigrants from North America at Ben-Gurion Inter Comments (3)

There is another type of Jewish jihadi, the online one.

Now I have a problem with this. It reminds me of the point at which I stopped watching the well-done if ideologically problematic TV show The Newsroom. The absurd premise (that the protagonist was a Republican and an equal opportunity critic, when the show was solely committed to making the Republicans look like a**holes) had worn pretty thin. But the point at which the protagonist (whose name I happily forget), finally gets the courage to defy the owners and go after the Tea Party, which he calls the “American Taliban” made turning the show off pretty easy. Tea Partiers don’t throw acid in the face of women whose behavior they find offensive; nor do pro-Israel Jews online slit people’s throats or rip them in pieces and drive their body parts through the streets. (Nor do they defend people who do do that.)

You want to call us Jewish cogwarriors, fine. Jihadis? you just show how little you understand about the enemy (or how little you understand about people who are on your side, even if you’re embarrassed by them in front of your “progressive” friends).

For the last few weeks they have had one mission – get on Twitter and be a constant thorn in the side of journalists covering this conflict, especially those reporting on the ground in Gaza. Some are actual employees of “pro-Israel” NGOs funded by Diaspora billionaires and coordinated at various discreet levels with official government hasbara departments. Most are self-appointed defenders of Israel who believe that by spending their days and nights online they are ensuring the survival of the Jewish State.

It turns out, they are on the front lines. The combination lethal narratives from Hamas (and other Palestinians) turned into news by the lethal journalists who, either under orders from Hamas, or out of some bizarre underdogma-driven advocacy, has endangered not just Israel and the Palestinians, but the rest of the world as well.

Together they have stoked an ongoing debate on journalistic ethics, a field they know nothing about.

Wow! Shades of Enderlin and associates insisting that civilian critics know nothing about real journalism and therefore have no right to criticize real journalists, that they’re merely meddling where they don’t belong, and that their criticism is a form of infringement on the free press.

The media is not above reproach, and the question of to what degree interference and pressure by Hamas affected the coverage is a legitimate one. Many seasoned correspondents in Gaza insist they experienced no effective censorship, while others have said they were subject to intimidation. A statement by the Foreign Press Association denouncing these Hamas actions is currently dividing the foreign press corps, many of whom feel that denunciation has undermined their credibility.

Indeed it has and should. But Anshel stands with Jodi on the denial side (ie the credibility of the journos): Foreign press: Hamas didn’t censor us in Gaza, they were nowhere to be found.

Civilian Casualties: Israel in Gaza vs. USA in Iraqope

A friend sent me this note:

US hypocrisy re Gaza civilians casualties

We all want to minimize civilian casualties, but wars in urban areas are chaotic. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009, of the victims of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq from March 2003 to March 2008, nearly half, 46% were women and 39% were children.

By contrast, according to the UN, (not friendly to Israel) 12% of all Palestinians killed in Gaza were women and 23% were children, far lower than the percentages killed in U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

However, men, most likely combatants, killed by the US, were only 15 % of their total, but most casualties by Israel have been men 65%!

Despite this superior  Israeli record the White House, Pentagon, and State Department have all accused Israel in the harshest terms of doing too little to prevent civilian casualties. Yet Israel’s record on this score is much better than America’s.

Response to Rob Eisen on Honor-Shame in Jewish Culture

Rob Eisen, who teaches Jewish Studies at Georgetown University writes the following on my exchange with Paul Scham, of which Paul posted his response at his blog. My responses folded into his comments.

The honor-shame dynamic varies in content and intensity with different cultures, but it’s in EVERY culture because it’s a basic element of human psychology. There’s lots to say about this from the standpoint of evolutionary biology, something Landes just isn’t sensitive to.

I’m not sure what makes you think I’m not sensitive to this, when I actually explicitly make the point at the beginning of the essay to which Paul responds. (I’ve just realized that Paul did not post my response to him, nor did he link to the original article to which he was responding, so unless you exercised more than due diligence, you only know what I think through the mirror of Paul’s response.) But thank you for the opportunity to clarify.

Tablet Exchange on Honor-Shame with Paul Scham: Unabridged Version

My friend Paul Scham, who’s on the National Advisory Board of J-Street and teaches about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict at University of Maryland, as well as one of the editors of Israel Studies Review, read my piece on Honor-Shame and the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Tablet and wrote a response, to which I wrote a response, which the Tablet, after considerable editing, has published. Both Paul and I are publishing the unedited versions of our work on our blogs, so that the five zealots who want to follow every detailed turn of our discussion can do so at their leisure. Comments welcome.

Honor and Shame are not the Problem:  A Reply to Richard Landes

By Paul Scham[1]

Richard Landes’s article on the honor-shame problem is erudite, articulate, and stimulating.  It is also largely irrelevant to understanding most of the Arab world today.  Such broad sweeps of historical generalization are titillating to historians and others but do not take account of the immense variation within the Arab and Muslim worlds and the fact that fundamental changes have occurred and are occurring within the last few decades, to say nothing of the last century.  Relying on a strict cultural determinism, as Landes does, is a disservice to understanding these dynamics.

Ya’ni culture and the problem of “lying” in honor-shame societies

My friend Matt Wanderman writes:

I remember you’ve talked about how Arab leaders don’t see something wrong with lying to Western media outlets. I was reading שומרי הסף and came across an interesting comment by Avi Dichter (former head of Shabak) on the phenomenon: בלא מעט מפגשים, כולל עם קולין פאוול שהיה מזכיר המדינה, ואחריו קונדוליסה רייס שהחליפה אותו, תמיד אמרתי להם: “אנחנו לא מוכנים לסבול יותר את תרבות ה’יעני’ של הפלסטינים.” ואז אמרו לי: “מה זה תרבות ה’יעני’?” אמרתי להם: “‘יעני’ זו מילת מפתח בערבית.” ואני אדגים לך אותה באמצעות סיפור אמיתי. בבית לחם היה מחבל, רב-מחבלים, בשן עטאף עבייאת שעמד מאחורי ירי המרגמות לעבר שכונת גילה בירושלים בשנת 2001. בשלב מסוים נשיא ארצות הברית בוש ויאסר ערפאת עסקו בשם עטאף עבייאת. תאר לעצמך – נשיא ארצות הברית דרש מיאסר ערפאת להכניס את עאטף עבייאת לכלא, ויאסר ערפאת התחייב שהוא יעצור את עאטף עבייאת ויכניס אותו לכלא. כי ישראל איימה שאם זה לא יקרה היא תיכנס לבית לחם כדי לפגוע בו. אחרי זה שמעון פרס שהיה שר החוץ הזעיק אותי לפגישה בירושלים עם אבו-עלא, שהיה יושב ראש המועצה המחוקקת שלהם, עם ג’יבריל רג’וב שהיה ראש השב”כ הפלסטיני ביהודה ושומרון, ועם סאיב עריקאת שהיה העוזר של יאסר ערפאת. ואז אני נכנס לחדר ויושבים שלושתם מול שמעון פרס, ושמעון פרס אומר לי: “אבי, הם אומרים שעאטף עבייאת בכלא.” ידעתי שזה קשקוש כי הוא היה בדיוק באיזה מבצע הכנו אז. אני אומר: “שמע, אדוני שר החוץ, אני צקווה שאתה לא מקבל את הדברים האלה.” אז הוא אומר לאבו-עלא: “אבו עלא, please tell him.” ועברנו לערבית כי באנגלית קשה מאוד לסכל טרור. ואז אבו-עלא אומר לי: “אבי, אני אומר לך, האיש עצור. האיש בכלא.” אני אומר לא: “אבו-עלא, אני מצטער, האיש לא בכלא.” ואז מהר מאוד ראית שהוא לא חזק בגרסה, הוא מסתכל על סאיב עריקאת ואומר לו: “סאיב, מיש היכ? (לא כך?)” סאיב עריקאת, האמן לי, אין לו מושג מי זה עאטף עבייאת, אין לו מושג מה בכלל קורה סביב הנושא הזה, אבל ניד הוא שולף מהמותן ואומר – “definitely” – ברור לחלוטין שהוא בכלא. ואז שניהם מסתכלים על ג’יבריל רג’וב ואומרים לו: “ג’יבריל, הוא בכלא, נכון?” עכשיו ג’יבריל יודע שאם יש מישהו שיכול לעצור את עטאף עבייאת זה רק הוא. והוא במלכוד. כי ג’יבריל יודע שהאיש לא בכלא. מעבר לזה, הוא יודע שאני יודע שהאיש לא בכלא, והכי גרוע, הוא יודע שאני יודע שהוא יודע שהאיש לא בכלא… ואז לוחצים, אומרים לו: “ג’יבריל, הלוא כן?” הוא בכלא, נכון?” ואז הוא אומר: “יעני…” עכשיו “יעהי” זה הוא בכלא, “יעני” זה הוא לא בכלא, ו”יעני” זה איפה שאתה רק רוצה… יום אחד היתה משלחת מארצות הברית אצלי וסיפרתי להם את הסיפור. בסוף שאלתי אותם: “הבנתם את המשמעות של המילה?” אז הם הסתכלו אחד על השני ואחד אומר – “יעני…” אמרתי: “אז הבנתם.” תרבות ה”יעני” היא אם כל חטאת במערכת היחסים שלנו עם הפלסטינים באותה התקופה. (דרור מורה, “שומרי הסף,” 2014, pg 259-60)

Matt’s quick translation:

In a number of meetings, including with Colin Powell, who was the Secretary of State, and after him Condoleeza Rice, who switched him, I always told them, “We aren’t willing to suffer any more of the Palestinians’ ‘ya’ni’ culture.” They replied, “What’s ‘ya’eni’ culture?” I told them, “‘Ya’ni’ is a keyword in Arabic.” And I’ll give you an example from a true story.

In Bethlehem there was a terrorist, an arch-terrorist, by the name of Ataf Abayat, who was behind the mortars fired at the Gilo neighborhood in Jerusalem in 2001. At a certain stage President Bush demanded that Yassir Arafat put Ataf Abayat in jail, and Yassir Arafat agreed to arrest him and to put him in jail, because Israel threatened that to enter Bethlehem if he didn’t.

After this Shimon Peres, who was the Foreign Minister, summoned me to a meeting in Jerusalem with Abu-Aleh, who was the head of their legal committee, with Jibril Rejub, who was the head of Palestinian interior security in the West Bank, and with Saib Erekat, who was Yassir Arafat’s assistant. I entered the room and the three were sitting across from Shimon Peres, and Shimon Peres told me, “Avi, they say that Ataf Abayat is in jail.” I knew that it’s not true because he was just in an operation that had been planned. I said, “Listen Mr. Foreign Minister, I hope that you don’t believe this.” Then he said to Abu-Aleh, “Abu-Aleh, please tell him.”

And we switched to Arabic because it’s very hard to stop terror in English. Abu-Aleh said to me, “Avi, I’m telling you, the man is under arrest. He’s in jail.” I told him, “Abu-Aleh, I’m sorry, the man is not in jail.” And very quickly you could see that he wasn’t certain of his version, he looked to Saib Erekat and said to him, “Saib, mish hech? (is it not so?)” Saib Erekat, believe me, has no idea who this Ataf Abayat is, has no idea what’s going on at all with this topic, but immediately responds, “definitely” – of course he’s in jail. And then both of them look at Jibril Rajub and say, “Jibril, he’s in jail, right?”

Now Jibril knows that if someone can arrest Ataf Abayat, it’s only him. And he’s trapped. Because Jibril knows that the man isn’t in jail. Beyond that, he knows that I know that he’s not in jail. And worst of all, he knows that I know that he knows that he’s not in jail… And they press him and say, “Jibril, is it not right? He’s in jail, right?” And he says, “Ya’ni…” Now “ya’ni” means he’s in jail, “ya’ni” means he’s not in jail, and “ya’ni” means whatever you want.

One day a delegation from America was with me and I told them this story. At the end I asked them, “Did you understand the meaning of the word?” They looked at each other and one said, “ya’ni…” I said, “Then you understood.” The “ya’ni” culture was the mother of all misunderstandings in the our relationship with the Palestinians during that period.

If it sounds like one of R.D.Laing’s Knots, it’s because it is one of them. And the way out is not to say, “whatever.”

BDS: DOA vs. Sea Change in Favor

Parallel universes (or a lot happened in two days):


JULY 22, 2014 4:53 PM

The movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel isn’t selling.


24 JULY 2014

The academic boycott of Israel (“Unity amid divisions”, Features, 17 July) is a boycott of institutions not individuals, and there has been a tidal shift of opinion in favour of a boycott – this week, a fourth US academic association voted to support it.


Desperation or Aspiration: Response to someone from a Facebook Discussion

As so many others, I have been involved in a facebook conversation with people highly critical of Israel’s behavior. In particular, I’ve exchanged a number of comments with someone. Given the problems of responding on facebook (hit the return and it’s over), I’ve decided to answer to a long and thoughtful comment he made here at my blog. I welcome his responses.

I totally agree. Hamas is trying to gain western sympathy through higher body counts. 

If only Israel seemed in any way interested in lifting the blockade that puts Hamas in such a position where they feel they need our sympathy.

You are aware that every time Israel lets in anything that can be turned against her, Hamas will do that, yes? The international community and the NGOs and the UNRWA assured Israel that the tons of cement they allowed in would be used for building structures for the sake of Gazans, and they were instead put in tunnels to Israel whose only function was to kill Israelis by the thousands.

Shavit on this sad war story

Ari Shavit has a good piece of analysis up at Ha-aretz. For those who are mesmerized by statistics (often cooked), it’s worth a read. While it’s so easy for Hamas (and Fatah) to say, “my side right or wrong,” it’s really hard for Israelis to say “this time we’re right” even when we are.

In this sad war story, Israel is in the right

Those who are even slightly forgiving of Hamas are cooperating with a fanatically religious tyrannical dictator. Hamas are Palestinian neo-Nazis.

When the fighting ends, they’ll start to ask difficult questions. Did Israel do everything in its power to utilize the many years of relative calm to advance the peace process? Was the United States careful not to leave a vacuum in place when the Kerry initiative failed? Did Israel’s security establishment accurately estimate the raw threat presented by Hamas, and the possibility that it would resort to conflict? Did Israeli society provide the Israel Defense Forces with the backing that it needed in order to sufficiently prepare for war? Did the bug of political correctness drive the far-left crazy? Did the blood and suffering of the last few weeks make Israeli democracy closed-minded and intolerant?

When the time comes, all of these questions will require not-so-simple answers.

But now, as soldiers are being attacked from all directions, there are other, more basic questions that must be asked. Who are we fighting? What are we fighting for, and are we justified?

Who are we fighting? A fascist organization that terrorizes the people of Gaza, oppresses women and gays, and shuns all democratic values of freedom and progress.

Samuel LAURENT : “Les djihadistes prêts à frapper la France” et le desarroi des intelos

Samuel Laurent parle des réseaux djihadistes en France, et l’apport de mujahideen revenants de Syrie en Europe par les milliers…

Est-ce que cette fois ci, lors d’une operation du Tsahal à Gaza, que les européens commencent à se reveiller au sujet du lien entre leurs journalistes meurtiers et la djihade qui se deroulent à l’intérieur de leurs propres sociétés?


Liberation, journal de gauche, publia sur les manifs illégaux un article anonyme qui illustre bien la partie-prise des “professionels de l’information” aux côtes des djihadis, avec tous les distortions morales et empirique qui en suivent.  Illustration de la faillite de l’intelligentsia européenne au début du 21e siècle.

Lise Haddad, Présidente du Mouvement pour la paix contre le terrorisme ( MPCT)” envoya la lettre suivante en réponse. 

“Quand  au lendemain de  la commémoration de la rafle du Vel d’hiv, des synagogues sont brûlées  ainsi que des magasins juifs et des” voitures de Juifs” dans une banlieue parisienne, il me semble extrêmement grave qu’un journal aille encore semer la haine et faire flamber les tensions.  Voilà pourquoi je décide de répondre à cet article d’un courageux anonyme au pseudo d’Horace Benatier qui étale ses titres académiques mais  cache son identité pour s’extasier devant l’organisation de cette manifestation interdite, samedi 19 juillet.

Il parle de “désobéissance civile” à propos du maintien d’une manifestation  pro palestinienne interdite sans considérer que cette interdiction intervient après une  première manifestation sur le même thème  dans laquelle avaient été tolérés les cris de  “Mort aux Juifs” à Paris et de “nous sommes tous des Mohamed Merah” à Nice avec une première synagogue attaquée rue de la Roquette, des Juifs molestés.

Pendant la manifestation interdite de si haute tenue morale, des slogans antisémites n’ont pas seulement été criés en marge de la manifestation, mais bien au coeur de celle-ci, et  le fait de le nier  constitue une forme de négationnisme contemporain. Que les curieux aillent se renseigner sur les témoignages tweeter des riverains qui  effarés, ont  filmé ces images d’un autre temps.  Une de mes proches, habitant à 100 mètres de la manifestation, a entendu ces cris de haine et a craint pour sa propre intégrité.  Quelle douceur, quelle dignité!

Je retiens de la part d’un “haut fonctionnaire” et “maître de conférence”, cette formule: “La manifestation fut un succès […] Par la dignité et la justesse verbale («Israël assassin, Hollande complice»)” dont ces manifestants ont fait preuve “. Quelle dignité et quelle retenue dans le fait de traiter en hurlant un pays “d’assassin” et le chef de l’Etat français de complice d’assassinat! Sur quels critères juridiques précis? Mystère. Monsieur l’enseignant masqué s’emballe dans un élan lyrique.

Quelle incitation à la  douceur et à la retenue! Il est vrai que Netanyahu aurait eu l’heur de plaire à cet Horace bien peu cornélien en laissant s’abattre des centaines de missiles sur tout son territoire, sur ses aéroports, hôpitaux, écoles, maisons,  faisant ainsi des milliers de morts israéliens mais  la stratégie cynique et visiblement efficace au plan  médiatique du bouclier humain prisée par le Hamas (organisation terroriste selon les critères internationaux) ne semble pas correspondre à la mentalité israélienne.

Les populations civiles palestiniennes sont prévenues  à l’avance par l’armée israélienne des bombardements en retour des tirs de roquettes et seul le Hamas les  incite à rester pour servir de martyres, c’est aussi le Hamas qui refuse d’accorder ou de respecter les trêves ou le cessez le feu. Si cet Horace crypté voyait des criminels  creuser un tunnel  jusqu’à son domicile pour effectuer des enlèvements ou pour  le tuer avec sa famille , sans doute  les accueillerait- il chez  lui et mourrait-il avec grâce, retenue, dignité. Sans doute croit-il que condamner les populations palestiniennes à vivre sous la tyrannie d’organisations terroristes et fanatiques est la marque de sa grande âme et qu’encourager les Mohamed Merah formés en  Syrie à venir massacrer des  enfants juifs dans leur école en France et des soldats musulmans ou  pas pendant leur permission constitue un acte de bravoure démocratique et de désobéissance civile.

Les jeunes casseurs de  banlieue sont nourris de haine contre les Sionistes, une haine semée par les islamistes et entretenue par les bonnes âmes sensibles qui défilent dans les rues aux côtés de gens éructant des “morts aux Juifs”, ils sont abreuvés  de haine contre les Juifs sous le fumeux  prétexte  qu’ils  soutiennent Israël, ils se déchainent  contre les commissariats de police qui essaient de faire respecter les valeurs démocratiques et qui représentent la force de protection de  l’Etat français “complice d’un Etat assassin” d’après monsieur Horace Benatier, ils les  attaquent donc à coup de pierres (intifada à la française), de barres de fer voire d’obus de  mortiers comme à Argenteuil.

Le mystère reste  qu’en pleine crise de la société civile, de bonnes âmes éduquées puissent penser ainsi et que Libération publie de tels articles.

Lise Haddad